isIt’s DCI Caroline Goode’s first day at work. In the age-old tradition of sexism in the workplace, his big promotion begins with a good-natured ribbing from the young DS on his team. “You should show your new boss a little more respect,” retorts Goode, played by Keeley Hawes. “First job, day one,” says DS Andy Craig as they walk down a spooky hallway to an office filled with bulky computer screens and predominantly white agents. “Hope this is a good one.” Goode responds firmly, “They’re all good. “
This is how Honor (ITV) opens. The focus is narrowly focused not on the actual case that follows – the rape, torture and murder of 20-year-old Banaz Mahmod in 2006 by five members of his family – but on Goode’s laudable resolve to bring to justice. the assassins of Mahmod. . For this Honor has been criticized – which is understandable. A drama about “honor-based” violence taking place in the community and directed by those who understand it has yet to be made, and 100% deserves to be illuminated. It doesn’t invalidate Honor, but it does raise the stakes on what we expect of him.
Fortunately, this is not a white savior tale. The central theme of both tense and nuanced parts of Gwyneth Hughes is the abject failure of the police force to protect a terrified British citizen who has asked for their help five times. Yes, five. There are two deeply rooted cankers here: the misogyny that fuels “honor-based” violence in a small number of communities, and the racial prejudice and institutional racism that pervades the police. Together, they created the poisonous brew that led to the murder of a young woman for kissing her boyfriend outside a subway station. Because, as Banaz’s sister, Bekhal, says in a frightening scene, “want a life”.
In the opening episode, Goode finds out just how let down Banaz has been. Three days before her disappearance, she handed over a list of suspects, all the men in her family who she said intended to kill her, and nothing was done. An officer who visited her in hospital after being assaulted by her father called her “hysterical” and considered charging her with criminal damage to a broken window. There is even a videotape in which she calmly makes a statement at a police station: “This is why I came. In the future, if anything happens to me… it’s them. This isn’t a slightly far-fetched addition, by the way, created for the purpose of dramatization. The videotape exists.
“How much more of their work did they want her to do for them?” Goode asks, lips tight and angry. “Maybe they’re as confused as I am,” DS Craig replies, “Too many names, gov. The other is so casual, so cumulatively insidious. In brief scenes like this, Hughes’ writing is a master class for showing rather than telling.
The interviews with Banaz’s family are unfortunately less convincing. Too stressed. Too undefined. There should be more of Bekhal, who in many ways is the true hero of this story, and Rahmat, the broken boyfriend whose scenes are made all the more tragic by the knowledge that he ended his life. life a decade later. Likewise, Banaz’s parents, who remain trapped in their all too often stereotypical roles of uncompromising father and silent mother – perhaps silenced.
Still, Honor possesses an understated authenticity that comes in part from Hawes – her performance is a study in controlled angst – and in part from the way she was portrayed on television. Real Life Goode and Bekhal, who has lived under witness protection since she assisted the police in the chase, consulted each other on the production, and it shows, especially during the meeting where the Superintendent chief falls back on white liberalism as a justification for neglect: “We must avoid suggesting that Kurdish men are unusually prone to honor killings.” Or when British Kurdish activist Diana Nammi tells Goode that the men in the community “will laugh when they hear that the chief investigating officer is a woman.”
And when Goode calls the female officer who refused to believe Banaz at the hospital… and, surprise, surprise, got her name wrong. “’Attention-seeking, hysterical, self-destructive,’ Goode yells at him. “Her own father had just tried to kill her, so… what the hell is this?”
“How was I supposed to know?” the officer replies, fresh as a cucumber. “I had no training on honor violence.” She remains incredibly unrepentant. The scene ends with her saying she would do the same thing again, with the injustice continuing.